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Growing up, I based my notion of what college was like on the 2012 movie “Pitch Perfect. Maybe it was because I was a choir kid, but this movie had me completely entranced. The singing, the dancing, the competition—being in an a cappella group sounded like the peak college experience. And I know that sounds silly, but I really believed it. In those moments when I watched the movie, nothing sounded cooler than joining a college a cappella group. And that’s exactly what I did.

Looking back to high school, I just remember so many people constantly telling us to “find our place;” to find where we fit in amongst the school. And somehow, I actually did. It was in choir. I had never felt more at home than when I was singing in a group. Singing had always been a big part of my life and to find a place to do that in school made me so happy. But when senior year of high school rolled around, so many expressed that this would be their last time doing anything musical because they had to focus on other things in college. And I just started to believe that too. So when I went to college, a part of me just accepted that I would have to “find a new thing.” And that scared me. As much as I wanted to explore, I felt like a part of me was missing if I didn’t have a place to sing. But, I found my way back to that part of my life when I joined an a cappella group—just as younger me would have wanted. 

I was accepted into an a cappella group here at the University of Colorado Boulder called  “One Note Stand.” Joining this group, I was a bit unsure of what to expect. Again, I found myself basing my hopes for it on “Pitch Perfect” since that was my only exposure to college a cappella. And some moments I found to be exactly like the movie, whereas others just became their own. Starting out as a brand new group with almost all new members, it was a bit surprising how quickly we all became friends. Our rehearsals were always filled with laughter, which made the work we had to do seem a bit easier. As we hung out during and outside of practice, I found myself growing very close with these people. Singing on stage in this group brought me back to my years in choir and made me realize that performing is a part of me that I wasn’t ready to leave behind in high school. 

A highlight of my year in this group was competing in the International Championship for Collegiate A Cappella (ICCA), which is actually the competition that was featured in “Pitch Perfect. Not only did we have to sing three songs, but we also had to dance while performing them. There were some hurdles to overcome when trying to learn how to dance and sing at the same time, but with my group, it was always a good time. As we advanced to the quarter-finals, the road became rocky at some points, but overall it was so worth it. When we were done competing in the quarter-finals, all of our hard work was shown in a ten-minute-long video of us performing. Watching this back was an unreal experience. I was fortunate enough to have a solo in our ICCA setlist, which filled me with an even greater feeling of accomplishment. When I first started out singing, I would be too scared to even audition for a solo, and now I was soloing a whole song for this competition. I couldn’t have been prouder of myself. But I was also proud of my group and how far we had come, finally starting to gain our own voice in our music. To be a part of this group, doing the thing I loved most, was everything I could have ever asked for. 

But overall, the best part of being in this group has been the friendships that have come out of it. Maybe it’s because we all have the same shared interest in singing, or maybe it was pure luck, but we all get along like family. I love this group with my whole heart and I want to thank them for helping me once again find my place. A cappella has allowed me to find myself through the creative outlet of singing. I am so proud of everything that we have done as individuals and as a group. I hope that all of my group members are reading this and I just want to tell you guys that these are moments in my life that I’ll hold on to forever. So maybe my experience wasn’t too far off from “Pitch Perfect.” Maybe it was even better. 

I can’t wait for another great year in this group and you can bet I’ll be writing an even mushier and more emotional article next year when I graduate. Until then, I can’t wait for the great things I know my group is going to do. This article wouldn’t be complete without a shameless plug for my group: follow our Instagram to see what we have in store for next year!

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Olivia Vasquez

CU Boulder '23

Olivia is a junior at CU majoring in ecology and evolutionary biology. She enjoys being creative by doing activities such as singing, drawing, painting, and crocheting. When she is not doing these things, she is probably getting overly attached to fictional characters.
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